From Iran, a prescription for fine art in Mt. Airy

by Len Lear
Posted 1/22/21

Last week my wife and I were sitting in the waiting room of Mt. Airy Family Practice when I could not help but notice a series of beautiful paintings of birds on the wall that were for sale.

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From Iran, a prescription for fine art in Mt. Airy


Last week my wife and I were sitting in the waiting room of Mt. Airy Family Practice, which has been at 760 Carpenter Lane (at Wayne Avenue) since 1989, when I could not help but notice a series of beautiful paintings of birds on the wall that were for sale. I was so impressed by the lifelike nature of the birds, who looked as if they could fly right out of the room, that I just had to find out about the artist, Faad Ghoraishi.

It turns out that Faad, 59, is quite a fascinating local resident. I once had an art professor in college who told us that fine artists have the kind of ethereal mentality that is the exact opposite of the fact-based, hard-nosed approach to life that scientists must have and that you will never find a fine artist who is also a scientist and vice-versa. Well, if that professor was still around (he died 12 years ago), I would tell him about Faad Ghoraishi, who is an electrical and chemical engineer in addition to being a sensitive fine artist.

Born in Iran in 1961, Faad left by himself to go to London at the age of 16. “I did not speak a word of English when I left Iran,” he said. “My dad thought it would be better for me to get out of the country. I was not escaping, but things were getting messy at the time (1977). It was two years before the Islamic Revolution. I wouldn't call myself an activist, but I had taken part in demonstrations.”

After learning English in London for six months, Faad left for the United States. He chose to live in Miami, where he finished high school, because he had a cousin in Tallahassee. His brother joined him later, and other members of his family also emigrated from Iran to Sweden, Australia, London, etc. “I miss Iran,” he said, “but it is not an easy place to live in.”

In 1986 Faad earned a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Florida, but he always painted since he was a small child. In fact, at age 6 he won a prize for art on a TV show in Iran. “I always loved to paint, but I did not want to be a starving artist, so I knew I would always paint but would not rely on it as a full-time career.”

Faad worked for Bell Labs as an electrical engineer in South Jersey for 12 years while living in Ocean Grove. He then worked for IBM in New York for 10 years, although he worked out of his house, and he still works full-time as an engineer with IBM. He wanted to live in a big city, though, so he checked out big cities on the east coast and “fell in love with Philly. I love the architecture. City Hall took my breath away.” So he moved to Philly in 2001.

Faad attended the Schuylkill Academy of Fine Art, 7th and Callowhill Streets, from 2004 to 2007, where he polished his instinctive skills, largely thanks to a professor named Kevin Lowellen. He also attended many workshops at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and Philadelphia Sketch Club, where he became chairman of the exhibition committee and had exhibits of his work.

In addition to his local residence, Faad has a home in New Hope.

“The scenery there is so beautiful,” he said. “It's a great place to paint landscapes. PA Impressionists did a lot of New Hope scenes. I fell in love with birding there. There are 30 different species in New Hope, and I have painted them all. The doctors at Mt. Airy Family Practice offered me wall space for my paintings, which I keep changing, mostly landscapes and dog portraits. Animals have always come easy to me.”

Faad's most recent Chestnut Hill area exhibit was in 2019 at Bjorn & Company, 8140 Germantown Ave.

 “My own favorite artists are Rembrandt, Goya, Sargent and Modigliani. Craftsmanship is important to me. With modern art the goal seems to be to be unique, so something like a urinal winds up in a museum...

“I love to paint, but selling is something different. I have artist friends who are very aggressive with selling, and I just cannot do that. I am financially secure because of my job, so it is less urgent to sell. I just love the process of painting for hours. It is relaxing. If someone says they admire my work, that is a wonderful feeling. Selling is extra.”

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